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Crisis on Earth-X: Night One

The much-promoted crossover is finally upon us, and it kicked things off with back-to-back episodes of Supergirl and Arrow last night. Let’s jump right in with Kori on recap duty and Elizabeth on analysis!

Recap

The opening, over on Supergirl, is pretty bleak. We’re jumping right into how awful Earth-X is, and while I understand we need to establish both how bad things are on this planet and that we’re starting on Supergirl, I question the need for Resistance!Guardian’s death to set those stakes. Maybe it’s our current political climate, maybe I’m a bit too sensitive, but did James seriously have to die to establish that this earth sucks?

Anyways, the rest of it is a pretty light-hearted affair with our heroes from all four shows discussing RSVPing to Iris and Barry’s wedding. Kara and Alex, in particular, are both wallowing in their relationship woes (who could blame them?) and Kara decides they need a break to go be not-wallowing sisters.

So let’s commence the nauseating pre-wedding affair! Barry and Oliver discuss love, and while Oliver may have the longest running stint as a hero, he’s been lapped by Barry in the relationship department several times. Barry finally manages to knock some sense into him about his rekindled relationship with Felicity. However, Ollie being Ollie decides that means he needs to talk about marriage to Felicity at the wedding rehearsal dinner. Oh, Ollie. It goes about as well as you’d expect.

But speaking of things actually going well! Sara and Alex meet at the open bar and commiserate over shots of scotch. And then do a little more than commiserate. There had been rumors that Sara and Alex might kiss over the course of the crossover. Yeah, that even wasted no time, they full-on had a multiple-rounds one-night stand. Alex’s face and reaction in the morning as she tried to sneak out was absolutely hilarious. And Kara’s delighted reaction and subsequent reassurance that no, Alex wasn’t an awful person for having a one-night stand was also a treat.

This line was apparently ad-libbed, as if it wasn’t awesome enough already.

Before we start launching into the meat of the crossover, I want to point out Jessica Parker Kennedy guest starring as an adorable if not overly eager caterer who goes to talk to Barry about his upcoming ceremony. As I mentioned in an article last week, her character is going to have some larger role to play, and I will eat my hat if she doesn’t turn out to be Dawn or Jenni.

Back to the wedding. The ceremony is cute, but it’s only a matter of time before it’s interrupted by a surprise nazi invasion. The heroes clear the civilians out, and manage to capture nazi!Prometheus, but Wally and Cisco are hurt during the fight.

After regrouping at Star Labs, Oliver and Company are shocked to find out that Prometheus is none other than Tommy Merlyn. This understandably knocks Oliver for a loop, and he asks for some alone time with Tommy. The rest of the team learn from the new version of Harrison Wells that a 53rd earth exists, Earth-X. He details that on this planet, the nazi party won the nuclear arms race, and obliterated Paris, London, New York, and more. They’ve been ruling the planet ever since and Felicity’s reaction is super extremely appropriate: nauseated horror.

Back with Ollie, he tries to understand how his best friend could have become this. Tommy says on Earth-X there is no other alternative. He then kills himself. We cut to the nazi invaders and find out that Earth-1 Eobard Thawne is somehow still alive, and that the other two leaders are nazi!Oliver and nazi!Kara. We see Dark Arrow’s manpain over Tommy’s death, then his squabble with Eobard. Overgirl breaks up the fight before the two kill each other, and she and Dark Arrow kiss.

Look, there is merit in seeing how anyone with the right upbringing and lack of options could be twisted and corrupted. Elizabeth details this in her analysis below.

Personally, I think the opening threw a massive wrench into this study because we were already shown members of the resistance and we were shown James Olsen a.k.a Captain Guardian willing to fight and die even after having grown up in this world “with no other choice.” Your mileage may vary, obviously, but I think there’s something to be said for someone like Tommy with every privilege made available to you in that environment. Contrasted with someone like James who would have absolutely been in for a much worse time thanks to the color of his skin. The Whites in the High Castle grow up with a much different experience and don’t see another alternative. For those labeled undesirables, the only option they have is to fight back.

It’s a much larger discussion and not one for the scope of this recap, but I’m at least glad that the show opened the lid on the ability to have this conversation. Also, as someone who occasionally crackshipped Kara and Oliver, well, that’s forever ruined.

Our heroes square off for a fight against the nazi invaders and are horrified to discover that they are far more familiar than they’d thought. Oliver and Kara are especially disgusted at their AU selves, and Barry is dismayed to find out Eobard is still alive.

The rest is a massive confrontation where eventually our heroes are all overwhelmed. Oliver’s team falls, and then so does everyone else. When they come to, they found out the reason for Overgirl and her army coming to Earth-1: they wanted the “prism” to simulate a red sun.

See, Overgirl has been exposed to too much solar radiation on her earth, courtesy of all the nuclear bombs the nazis had set off. Her heart is failing, but that’s all okay now, because thanks to Barry’s wedding they have a perfect donor in their clutches: Kara. Alex warns Overgirl to stay away from her sister, and Overgirl laughs her off.

Look, nazigirl, if Alex weren’t in her chains right then, you would be dead. Your asshole should be clenching with fear.

Anyways, they transport our heroes back to a concentration camp on Earth-X and presumably take Kara to have her deadly surgery. We end on that note, but fear not! Felicity and Iris are still free if trapped in the nazi overrun Star Labs. But we have not yet begun to fight, and there are more heroes yet to enter the fray! Tune in tonight for the two-hour conclusion to ‘Crisis on Earth-X.’

Analysis

As Kori alluded, I have a lot to say about the topic of nazi AUs, but we’ll get to that in a second. I would first like to congratulate our very own Baby Gay Disaster, Alex Danvers, on her first wedding one-night-stand. The smile on Kara’s face when she realizes what happened is my new desktop wallpaper.


I, like Alex, am not really a one-night-stand kind of girl, so I found her embarrassment and conflicted feelings to be very relatable. I love that Kara reassures her it’s okay to just have fun sometimes, because while you know that logically, it’s nice to be reminded. I was thinking that they were just going to have Sara and Alex kiss or something, but no! They went full Quinntana on this, and this is probably all I’m going to talk about for the next month.

I would also like to say, I’m thrilled they let Benoist sing again. You know me, I love my sappy romantic nonsense. Please let Benoist sing as much as possible, DCTV. It scratches that Glee itch without me actually having to watch more Glee.

But that’s not the meaty part of this year’s crossover, so we’re not going to spend more time on it. Let’s talk about the nazis.

From the moment that Crisis on Earth X was announced, people were heavily divided on this direction for the crossover. Obviously no one is objecting to punching nazis, and all of our heroes made it very, very clear that this is what they intend to do. The strength and conviction the characters have on this topic, spitting out the word ‘nazi’ like it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, is unquestionable. The horror and disgust that our heroes express when they learn about Earth X makes it obvious that the purpose of this arc isn’t to imply in any way that nazis are cool or something to admire.

The problem, or rather the point of contention on this arc within the fandom, is the alternate universe versions of the heroes. I know a lot of people severely dislike this, but I’m not one of those people. I have a very specific reason for this, however, and it’s heavily driven by personal experience so it’s not surprising to me that there’s such a wide variety of opinions on this topic. To better clarify my opinion on this, I’m gonna tell you guys some things about myself that I’m not proud of, but I feel it needs to be said to better explain my point of view on this.

I’ve mentioned this a few times in other articles and in the Ladies First podcasts, but I grew up surrounded by incredibly racist people, and so I grew up pretty racist myself. In high school, my friend circle was largely white, straight, boys who were really into 4chan. I also was really into it, because with the veil of anonymity you were able to “joke” about absolutely despicable things with zero consequences. While my parents laid the foundations, 4chan cemented some of those beliefs deeper than they ever should have reached, because that’s what happens when your social circle exists in an echo chamber.

Fortunately, I did become educated about why those beliefs were wrong, and it was constant exposure to counterarguments that I couldn’t simply ignore or dismiss (e.g. in real life conversations and classes, where you can’t just disappear into the Anonymous Ether) that led to this revelation. I realized that a lot of what was being said on that site wasn’t “in good fun.” Even if it genuinely started as that (it didn’t, but some people like that strawman), that’s not what it became. So I stopped visiting the site, and my life is infinitely better for it.

I have some former friends who never really grew out of the 4chan mentality, and I consider that a cautionary tale, not an indication that I am in any way smarter than they are. In fact, I know that they’re smart, because they’re smart enough to convince themselves that blatantly biased and racist beliefs are actually okay.

Human beings are remarkably good at rationalizing things to themselves, and we also really like not changing things about ourselves. Introspection, like losing weight, is a long and painful process that will probably involve a lot of swearing, self-loathing, and crying. But it’s a necessary struggle to better yourself. Unfortunately, some people can’t or won’t put in the effort, and the older they are the more damage there is to undo.

So what does this have to do with Supergirl? Glad you asked!


I like these AU stories because I consider them a reminder to myself that Good and Evil are things that you do, not things that you are. The juxtaposition between the heroes and their evil counterparts reminds me that no one is above being corrupted, especially when they grow up surrounded by corruption. Seeing a version of Kara with the SS emblazoned on her chest is a really uncomfortable reminder of things like that one time a friend referred to me as an “Aryan Princess” in high school and I took it as a compliment.

I am utterly horrified by the person I used to be and the things I used to say and believe. But I am also a creature of habit and quite possibly one of the laziest people on planet earth when it comes to self-improvement. I need a swift kick in the ass a lot of the time to get moving. Being reminded that doing good is a choice, and a choice that other versions of myself might not make, motivates me to do better.

If the multiverse theory is real, then that means somewhere out there is a version of me that I would have to fight on principle. The important thing for me to remember is that version of me could have existed in this universe, and having that visually conceptualized is a reminder to not get lazy in my beliefs or my mentalities. It makes me want to make sure that I am the Good Version of myself in the multiverse.

I will do my best, Kara.

As we’ve seen with various villains compared to Supergirl, sometimes whether you turn out to be a villain is a matter of your upbringing, how you were introduced to your powers, and whether or not the people around you are a positive or negative influence on your morality. There are so many reasons why Kara is a hero, but none of those reasons are set in stone. Once again: good is something you do, not something you are.

There’s also the issue of whether or not someone believes that what they’re doing is right. I know it’s fun to say “cool motive, still murder” but the motive actually does matter, even if it’s still murder. The path to hell is paved with good intentions, and understanding why people do evil things is an important factor in preventing them from happening. I am not interested in a nazi’s justification for their beliefs in the sense that I think it’s going to make them less deplorable; I’m interested in them because I want to know how someone who is otherwise intelligent and as human as I am could come to sincerely believe these things. A large chunk of the field of psychology is devoted to studying this very phenomenon, because if we don’t understand it, we can’t prevent it.

This is the angle that I believe this crossover event is taking. While I understand why a lot of people don’t like it at all, I am not in that crowd. Considering how much the DCTV universe has grown up in the past year, especially this season with Supergirl, I feel like they’re capable of doing this story arc with respect and nuance. With this approach, we get to have dark versions of the heroes without corrupting the actual heroes for the sake of drama. There is nothing worse than when a tv show unexpectedly takes a turn down Grimdark Alley, so I vastly prefer this “get your cake and eat it too” approach that’s so well suited to the superhero genre. If you’re on the fence about watching this year’s crossover event, I understand. I can say that this is NOT Secret Empire, it’s far closer to The New Colossus if anything.

In real life, we don’t get to confront a personified version of our prejudices. The fight is very internal, and very personal. But seeing Kara & Company beat the tar out of a bunch of nazis, including versions of themselves? That’s viscerally satisfying. Punch every nazi, DCTV. You’re giving me some lovely new additions to my Punching Nazis in the Face gif folder.

Next week on Supergirl: The episode is titled “Reign,” so you know Kori is going to be a useless mess. It’s the last episode before the mid-season hiatus, so it’s sure to be a big one. See you next Tuesday!


Images courtesy of the CW

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When not working on her degree or at her actual job, Elizabeth pursues her true passion of complaining at great length about pop culture on the internet. She serves as a Managing Editor for The Fandomentals. You can find her on Tumblr, Twitter and Steam @ohemgeelizabeth

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